Weekend Movies: Action, Lightweight and Animated Fluff

The month of bad movie releases is halfway over. Two weeks down and only two more to go. After this bland weekend, we at least get promising titles such as ‘Haywire’ and ‘The Grey’ in subsequent weeks. Bite your tongue and make it through this weekend, and it’ll soon be over.

After having to eat my words about ‘The Lion King in 3D’ release last year (I predicted it would flop, but it actually added another $94 million to the film’s box office totals), I’ve learned that nothing stands in the way of Disney cleaning up at the box office by re-releasing its best animated films in 3D. ‘Beauty and the Beast 3D‘ hits the big screens this weekend with an all-new animated ‘Tangled‘ short playing beforehand (which I hear is quite delightful). But here’s the question: How will business compare to ‘The Lion King in 3D’? ‘The Lion King’ reigned at the box office was prior to its Blu-ray release. ‘Beauty and the Beast’, however, has already been on Blu-ray for over a year, including a 3D Blu-ray release that hit shelves last October. Any predictions?

The highly-advertised musical ‘Joyful Noise‘ finally opens this weekend. The best thing about its opening is that we won’t be forced to watch that awful trailer at the cinemas anymore. Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton star as two catty members of a Southern church choir that’s trying to make it to Regionals – just like the cast of ‘Glee‘. Their quarrel is amplified when Latifah’s innocent daughter falls for Parton’s grandson with a bad attitude. Wackiness, melodrama and quirky scoring ensue.

Mark Wahlberg headlines another bland cookie-cutter caper movie with ‘Contraband‘, a heist flick about smugglers. Marky Mark’s brother-in-law gets into deep trouble with a sleazy New Orleans drug dealer (Giovanni Ribisi). He has to return to smuggling to set things straight and keep his hot wife (Kate Beckinsale) and two kids out of harm’s way. Shut off your brain because this is one mindless action flick.

Several indies also open in limited release. The documentary ‘Man on a Mission‘ follows known videogame developer Richard Garriott on his 2008 trip to space. Just to become the first second-generation astronaut, Garriott spent his $30 million fortune on training and travel to the International Space Station. Considering that it features in-cockpit footage from blast off, I’m dying to see ‘Man on a Mission’ on the biggest screen possible.

Starring Peter Faccinelli of ‘Twilight‘ and Jaimie Alexander of ‘Thor‘, ‘Loosies‘ is a comedic romantic drama about an NYC thief confronted by a now-pregnant one-night-stand who wants him to leave his criminal life behind for one of responsibility and family. Eesh.

The movie that I’d kill to have open near me this weekend is ‘Don’t Go in the Woods‘, a horror movie with a musical twist. Unlike the cult indie rock opera short ‘The Legend of Beaver Dam’ (click here for the awesome trailer), ‘Don’t Go in the Woods’ is said to be the ‘Once’ of the horror genre. Another interesting note is that it was written and directed by Vincent D’Onofrio.

The final limited release indie worth mentioning is ‘Albatross‘, a twisted little drama from the UK about a girl who befriends another girl, only to have her new friend start sleeping with her father. It sounds like things are about to get heavy. ‘Albatross’ stars Felicity Jones of ‘Like Crazy’ and Jessica Brown Findlay of ‘Downton Abbey’.


  1. We are going this weekend to see Beauty and the Beast, so that should tell you something right there. None of the kids really cared about going to see Lion King, but are excited about Beauty and the Beast. I imagine it will do better than Lion King did because its a princess movie. The only thing that may keep it from topping Lion King – if I remember right, Lion King was released in summer, whereas this is being released in the middle of the school year. Still, I imagine the showings will be packed with preschool girls (and hopefully their parents) in their Disney outfits.

    As for Joyful Noise, I can finally talk about it. I saw it at an audience test-screening back in July. The movie is actually really good. I probably wouldn’t have had any intrest if we hadn’t gotten in for free, but now that I have seen it, I am actually planing to go see it again in theaters. It’s just a feel-good movie up in the same class as Sister Act, but better. Whether its a family movie or not will depend on if they cut a 10 second scene out of the movie – we all complained about it at the screening – it added nothing to the movie and would have changed the rating. If that scene is cut, then its a great family-friendly movie. If they left the scene, I wouldn’t take anyone under the age of 13 to see it, and even then, it might be awkward watching it with your kids.

    I am not sure how well Joyful Noise will do, but it is certainly a good movie, and I recommend it.

    • EM

      Yeah, I too hope the preschool girls’ parents go in their Disney outfits—that should be a sight to see!

        • EM

          I don’t care for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast…but maybe the next time I do go to a Disney film, I’ll wear my mouse ears.

          • You don’t care for Beauty and the Beast? Well, you have every right to not like it, but it’s a brilliant movie in my book. Quite possibly Disney’s grandest of grand achievements. Wow, what a film!

            @William Henley: could you elaborate on that one ‘Joyful Noise’ scene that should have been/be cut?

          • @Julian – One of the female characters in the movie is constantly throwing herself at guys. In the screening, they started making out in front of the church. The scene changed to them in bed together, then she tries to wake him up the next morning, to find out that he had a heart attack from their wild sex the night before, and then cuts to his funneral. I felt it was inappropriate for a movie of this subject matter, as did several other people in the theater. We recommended that they went from the couple making out to cutting straight to the funneral. It would have been just as funny without offending their target audience of ultra-conservatives.

            @EM – Yeah, I agree that Sleeping Beauty is the best of all the Disney animated movies. One of the early movies I bought on Blu-Ray. I still like Beauty and the Beast though – I would say it is probably the finest of Disney’s modern movies (ie movies made in the past 25 years).

          • Toy Story is not traditional animation but CGI. Pixar also wasn’t part of Disney until recently – they were independant. Roger Rabbit isn’t Disney either – its Touchstone.

          • Of course, Touchstone is owned by Disney, and I believe Pixar is now owned by Disney. But so is Hollywood Pictures, ABC and ESPN. There is no way I would say that ESPN Sports Center is the finest show Disney has ever produced, because its not made by Disney.

          • EM

            Gee, Toy Story is not traditional animation but CGI? I never noticed!!!—that is, I never noticed that anyone in this conversation was making such a restriction, even when tightening the restriction to modern movies.

          • EM

            Hence my already including a contingency choice or two in case the Pixar connection was not Disney enough.

            Traditionally, corrections are for situations that were incorrect.

          • @Jullian – Okay, so I know its a week later, but finally got down to see Joyful Noise again. I am really happy with the way the film got edited from what I saw at the original screener. Many scenes were shortened, and the scene I was offended by got shortened so that it is no longer offensive.

            We do think that there was a choir song cut in the middle of the movie. Its been several months since we saw it, but yeah, we think that a competition song was cut. However, for the most part, we were extraemely pleased with the end product. I would recommend it.

        • Touchstone is just a label that Disney gives to its productions that either aren’t family-safe or have a higher-than-PG rating.

          The Nightmare Before Christmas was originally released under the Touchstone banner because then-CEO Michael Eisner felt that it was “too dark” to carry the Disney name. Years later, it was rebranded to the Walt Disney Pictures label instead. Nothing else about the movie changed.